COVID-19 vaccine: Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Get advice and read research about the COVID-19 vaccine if you're pregnant, breastfeeding or trying for a baby.

Last updated: 13 October 2021

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Pregnant

If you’re pregnant, you can get a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine (Comirnaty) at any stage of your pregnancy.

The vaccine protects you as you’re far less likely to fall seriously ill. It also protects your pēpi as there is evidence that babies can get antibodies through the placenta that help protect them from COVID-19.

Being vaccinated also means you’re less likely to transmit the virus to others. It helps protect tamariki in your family who are too young to be vaccinated, and older whanāu members (such as grandparents) you’re spending time with.

Kia ora, so COVID-19 disease is very worrying for pregnant women, as we all know that you can get a lot sicker with COVID-19 when you're pregnant, higher risk of miscarriage and losing your baby.

So it's really good to know that COVID-19 vaccine is very effective in pregnant women, got lots of international data now showing that the vaccination works really well with pregnant women, It's got a really good safety profile.

I think importantly for us we know that it will stop us getting very sick or dying if we do get COVID-19 when we're pregnant. I guess the best news of all is that if you do get a vaccination when you're pregnant, that your immune response will give you antibodies that will be passed on to your baby.

So when your newborn baby comes they'll also have some protection against COVID-19.

So, many good reasons to go ahead and get the vaccination and it's great we've got a lot of data now to reassure ourselves that this is a good thing to do in pregnancy, kia ora.

I'm Sarah, I'm 25 weeks pregnant and initially I was on the fence about the vaccine and then I decided absolutely not, I'm not getting the vaccine. I just felt like there wasn't enough long-term studies on pregnant women getting the vaccine.

The main thing that made me decide to get it was Delta coming to New Zealand and I just didn't want to risk that for me or the baby. But after doing some research on other pregnant people having the vaccine and talking to my obstetrician and my mum who's a nurse, I decided that was probably the best thing for me and baby.

Saying yes, you should get it from people that I trusted and knew was a bit different than just kind of an ad on TV, being like go get your vaccine. Hearing it from someone that you know or someone that's pregnant that had had it as well, that was really reassuring.

I definitely can understand and sympathise with other pregnant women, why they're so hesitant to get the vaccine, and there's so much public opinion on what you should and shouldn't do when you're pregnant. I haven't heard of any obstetricians or midwives saying do not get it, surely that's telling you

Risks of COVID-19 during pregnancy

If you catch COVID-19 when you’re pregnant, you are more likely to become very unwell.

If you’re not vaccinated, you are more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit – particularly with the Delta variant.

There are also increased risks for babies. Babies are five times more likely to be born prematurely and require neonatal intensive care.

Vaccine safety

Millions of pregnant people have been vaccinated around the world.

Data shows no evidence that the vaccine is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage during pregnancy, and no additional safety concerns have been raised.

The Pfizer vaccine does not contain a live virus or any ingredients that are harmful to pregnant people or their babies.

Research and data

  1. The impact of COVID-19 on pregnancy
  2. COVID-19 vaccination coverage among pregnant women
  3. Pregnancy and neonatal outcomes of COVID-19 – a study from the UK and US
  4. mRNA COVID-19 vaccine safety in pregnancy – a US study
  5. The vaccine and risk of miscarriage - a study from the US
  6. Side effects following vaccination – data from Medsafe

COVID-19 vaccination – Pregnancy and breastfeeding brochure (PDF, 458 KB)


Breastfeeding

If you’re breastfeeding, you can get a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine (Comirnaty) at any time.

Studies show there are no additional safety concerns or issues with continuing to breastfeed after vaccination.

Breastfeeding supports the development of a healthy immune system, and if you’re vaccinated against COVID-19, there is evidence that you can provide extra protection for your pēpi through antibodies in your breastmilk.

Research and data

  1. Antibodies in breast milk after COVID-19 vaccination – research from a study in Israel
  2. Effects of COVID-19 vaccination on breastfeeding mothers and their babies – research from the US

Trying for a baby

If you’re planning a pregnancy, you can get the Pfizer vaccine at any time.

The Pfizer vaccine will not affect your genes or fertility.

The mRNA from the vaccine does not enter the nucleus of any cells, which is where your DNA is.

English

The Pfizer vaccine is an mRNA vaccine that protects us against COVID-19.

How does it work? Let’s start by looking at the coronavirus.

This is the virus that causes COVID-19.

The virus uses the spikes on its surface to enter our cells.

The spikes of the virus also help our body to identify the virus as an intruder.

The vaccine works by showing our body the spike protein, so our immune system can prepare to quickly spot and attack the virus.

To create the vaccine, scientists created mRNA (or messenger RNA) that contains the recipe for building the spike protein.

This acts as a messenger carrying instructions to our cells.

When we get the vaccine, the mRNA instructs our cells to build copies of the spike protein. They only build the spike protein, not the whole virus.

As our bodies build these copies, our immune systems kick in and create antibodies to fight off the intruders.

We get two doses of the vaccine because the first dose starts to build our immune response and the second dose acts as a booster so our immune system can remember and mount a stronger response when it encounters the virus.

Once the immune system is primed, it will remember the virus for months or even years. If we encounter the virus in the future, the immune system will launch an antibody attack immediately.

Nothing is left behind from the vaccine (our body breaks down the mRNA) and there is no possibility of the vaccine affecting our body’s DNA.

Te reo Māori

He rongoā ārai mate mRNA te rongoā ārai mate Pfizer ka tiaki i a tātou i te Kowheori-19.

He pēhea tana mahi? Me tīmata tātou i te tirotiro ki te mate korona.

E ahu mai ana te KOWHEORI-19 i tēnei huaketo. Ka whakamahi te huaketo i ngā tara o tōna mata ki te kōkuhu atu ki ō tātou pūtau.

Mā ngā tara o te huaketo e āwhina hoki tō tātou tīnana ki te tautohu i te huaketo hei kaiwhakaeke. Ka mahi te rongoā ārai mate mā te whakaatu ki tō tātou tinana te pūmua o te tara (pūmua tara), kia pai ai te whakariterite o tō tātou pūnaha awhikiri ki te tautohu me te patu tere i te huaketo.

Hei waihanga i te rongoā ārai mate, i waihangaia e ngā kaimātai pūtaiao te mRNA (arā, he messenger RNA) he mea pupuri tohutohu mō te hanga i te pūmua tara.

Ka noho tēnei hei kaikarere e kawe tohutohu ana ki ō tātou pūtau.

Kia whiwhi tātou i te rongoā ārai mate, ko tā te mRNA he tohutohu i ō tātou pūtau ki te hanga tārua o te pūmua tara.

Ka hanga ērā i te pūmua tara anake, kaua te katoa o te huaketo.

Nō te hanganga o ēnei tārua i ō tātou tinana, ka whana mai ō tātou pūnaha awhikiri ki te waihanga paturopi hei whawhai i ngā kaiwhakaeke.

Ka whiwhi tātou e rua ngā tukunga o te rongoā ārai mate nā te mea, ko tā te tukunga tuatahi he tīmata noa iho ki te whakapakari i tō tātou ahwikiri ārai mate, ā, ko te tukunga tuarua hei whakakaha ake kia mahara ai tō tātou pūnaha awhikiri me kaha tonu tana urupare i te tūtākinga ki te huaketo.

Kia rite mai te pūnaha awhikiri, e kore e wareware te huaketo mō ētahi marama, ētahi tau rawa rānei.

Ki te tūtaki tātou ki te huaketo hei ngā rā e tū mai nei, ka tere tonu te huaki ā-paturopi a te pūnaha awhikir.

Kāore e whakarērea he paku aha i te rongoā ārai mate (ka whakapopo tō tātou tinana i te mRNA) nō reira e kore rawa e pāngia te pītau ira o tō tātou tinana e te rongoā ārai mate.

English

The Pfizer vaccine is an mRNA vaccine that protects us against COVID-19.

How does it work? Let’s start by looking at the coronavirus.

This is the virus that causes COVID-19.

The virus uses the spikes on its surface to enter our cells.

The spikes of the virus also help our body to identify the virus as an intruder.

The vaccine works by showing our body the spike protein, so our immune system can prepare to quickly spot and attack the virus.

To create the vaccine, scientists created mRNA (or messenger RNA) that contains the recipe for building the spike protein.

This acts as a messenger carrying instructions to our cells.

When we get the vaccine, the mRNA instructs our cells to build copies of the spike protein. They only build the spike protein, not the whole virus.

As our bodies build these copies, our immune systems kick in and create antibodies to fight off the intruders.

We get two doses of the vaccine because the first dose starts to build our immune response and the second dose acts as a booster so our immune system can remember and mount a stronger response when it encounters the virus.

Once the immune system is primed, it will remember the virus for months or even years. If we encounter the virus in the future, the immune system will launch an antibody attack immediately.

Nothing is left behind from the vaccine (our body breaks down the mRNA) and there is no possibility of the vaccine affecting our body’s DNA.

Te reo Māori

He rongoā ārai mate mRNA te rongoā ārai mate Pfizer ka tiaki i a tātou i te Kowheori-19.

He pēhea tana mahi? Me tīmata tātou i te tirotiro ki te mate korona.

E ahu mai ana te KOWHEORI-19 i tēnei huaketo. Ka whakamahi te huaketo i ngā tara o tōna mata ki te kōkuhu atu ki ō tātou pūtau.

Mā ngā tara o te huaketo e āwhina hoki tō tātou tīnana ki te tautohu i te huaketo hei kaiwhakaeke. Ka mahi te rongoā ārai mate mā te whakaatu ki tō tātou tinana te pūmua o te tara (pūmua tara), kia pai ai te whakariterite o tō tātou pūnaha awhikiri ki te tautohu me te patu tere i te huaketo.

Hei waihanga i te rongoā ārai mate, i waihangaia e ngā kaimātai pūtaiao te mRNA (arā, he messenger RNA) he mea pupuri tohutohu mō te hanga i te pūmua tara.

Ka noho tēnei hei kaikarere e kawe tohutohu ana ki ō tātou pūtau.

Kia whiwhi tātou i te rongoā ārai mate, ko tā te mRNA he tohutohu i ō tātou pūtau ki te hanga tārua o te pūmua tara.

Ka hanga ērā i te pūmua tara anake, kaua te katoa o te huaketo.

Nō te hanganga o ēnei tārua i ō tātou tinana, ka whana mai ō tātou pūnaha awhikiri ki te waihanga paturopi hei whawhai i ngā kaiwhakaeke.

Ka whiwhi tātou e rua ngā tukunga o te rongoā ārai mate nā te mea, ko tā te tukunga tuatahi he tīmata noa iho ki te whakapakari i tō tātou ahwikiri ārai mate, ā, ko te tukunga tuarua hei whakakaha ake kia mahara ai tō tātou pūnaha awhikiri me kaha tonu tana urupare i te tūtākinga ki te huaketo.

Kia rite mai te pūnaha awhikiri, e kore e wareware te huaketo mō ētahi marama, ētahi tau rawa rānei.

Ki te tūtaki tātou ki te huaketo hei ngā rā e tū mai nei, ka tere tonu te huaki ā-paturopi a te pūnaha awhikir.

Kāore e whakarērea he paku aha i te rongoā ārai mate (ka whakapopo tō tātou tinana i te mRNA) nō reira e kore rawa e pāngia te pītau ira o tō tātou tinana e te rongoā ārai mate.

Further reading

IMAC - COVID vaccines and fertility


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